They found Joyce bound and gagged in the old book cage, Buffy broke
the gate open and untied her. Joyce was upset, but basically unharmed.
Mother and daughter had a brief but intense reunion, then Giles cleared
"We'd best go. They could come back," Giles said. And right
then, he thought, the entire crew couldn't fight off the three little
kittens. The amulets are starting to fade, and the shadows are growing
deeper by the minute. It's time to go.
They headed for the exit as quickly as they could manage, what with
having to pick their way carefully through the carnage, trying not to
step in the pools of black blood, or the slime, and not trip over the
severed tentacles and demonic corpses that are already beginning to
bloat as they decay with unnatural speed. Personally Xander preferred
fighting vampires: poof, dust, no muss, no fuss. Alice stays with him,
her smooth flank pressed against his leg, offering support. He thinks
he detects worry in her yellow eyes, when she looks up at him now and
again, but it's hard to read anything in those inhuman eyes.
Outside in the relatively safe night Xander sucked in the fresh air,
and then realizes that something’s wrong with this picture. No
van in the circle. Desperately scanning the parking lot and a brief
instant of relief when he spots it 50 feet away...before he notices
that it’s silent and dark, no sign of Willow or Cordy. By the
marks on the weathered asphalt, it had been dragged there. They all
run towards it, and close-up they can see there are fresh dents, and
dark blood painting the battered fenders, front and rear. A side window
has been shattered and there are splats and smears of *ick!* all over
"Willow," Xander shouts. And two heads raise themselves cautiously
to look out through the windshield and it's a good moment, good as the
one when drowned Buffy turned her head and coughed up a gallon of filthy
water, and lived.
"Demons," Cordelia explained later back at Giles' while she
finished patching Angel up. Doctor Chase, on the job again. "They
dragged the van out of the circle with a rope, tried to break in."
"Cordelia was great, she kept them from dragging us out for a
long time, and after that she kept going forward, backing up…
And when the van stalled out, she used the sprayer." Willow gushed.
Cordelia accepted her praise graciously.
"Effective, but gross," Cordelia said wincing at the memory
of liquidized demon flesh splattering the windshield, *yuck*. She frowned
at Angel. "*You* need to learn to duck," she told him. The
big dummy had taken a lot of damage. The duster would never be the same
again, that was for sure and the upper half of his body was covered
in thin scars as though he'd been whipped, she's not worried about those
though, they're fading already. The deeper wounds gape palely, not bleeding,
but not healing either. He was going to need blood for that. She glared
at Spike, who'd bogarted the one pack of blood in Giles' fridge the
minute they got into the apartment. He smirked back at her smugly unrepentant.
She hoped he got food poisoning.
"There, that ought to hold it for now," Cordelia said applying
the final strip of duct tape.
"Thanks," Angel says. He reaches for his shirt and winces
as the tape pulls. He's so tired. The dark exhilaration of wreaking
death and destruction, shared by soul and demon alike, has guttered
out, leaving him bone-tired, and...hungry. He swallows, silently cursing
the demon he can feel rising in response to the smell of human blood,
his friends' blood, thickening the air. Uncomfortably aware of Buffy,
in the corner only a few feet away where she's been fidgeting while
Cordy patched him up.
Cordelia glances at Buffy as Angel stands. Must be nice to be the Slayer,
she thinks. At least the super-strength part, she'll pass on the premature
death, thank you very much. Unlike the rest of the crew, living and
undead, Buffy has come through it all nearly unscathed, what few bruises
and marks she collected are already fading. Even her hair looks good,
considering. And yet still she's got that wounded puppy look around
the eyes. Cordelia feels like a worn out sneaker and knows she looks
worse; she really wants to say something, but the whole becoming a better
person thing must be for real, cause she doesn't.
"I'm going to freshen up," Cordelia tells Angel. "Then
we can leave." She disappeared into the downstairs bathroom. Angel
looked at Buffy, finally, and can't look away. He could see the pain
in her eyes, worry, for him, and under it all, the same need he feels
stretching between them, an unbreakable chain. It's all too much, Buffy,
the haze of blood...
"I need to get out of here," Angel said. Buffy nods.
"Patio?" she said.
Thank fuck for that, Spike thinks as he watches them go out together.
Having both the Slayer and the Pouf in the same room was more than he
could take. Especially if they were about to start driveling on about
their own true love, and they were.
Yes folks, it was raging hormones day here at White Hat Central. The
Wanker had sloped off upstairs with Joycie as soon as they got in. He
could *smell* them from here. Wouldn't be surprised if the chandelier
started swinging any minute. He hoped neither of them had heart conditions,
or it was likely to get ugly…which might be a bit of a giggle,
come to think of it.
He took another swallow of Giles' scotch, yeah, that really hit the
spot. He was feeling pretty good right about now. Nice bit of violence,
tearing nasty little demons apart bare-handed had been just what he
needed. He'd taken some damage, but the blood, ice cold and foul as
it was, had done him a world of good. To hell with the Dark Knight,
let him get his own. Could do with more, though. The smell of blood
in the room is tantalizing and frustrating. Bloody shame, all that just
going to waste.
The werewolf's wounds smell especially tasty. Poor red-headed bugger
was sitting all alone at the table, forgotten by Willow. The witch had
hastily patched him up, and then left to hover near the brat, Xander.
The boy sagged in the chair like an old man, shirtless and shivering
while Miss Kitty took care of his wounds. The better for him to see
the deep gash in the boy's back, slowly oozing the red stuff. Imagined
putting his tongue into it, just a taste... Not a fucking chance they'd
let him do it though.
"I could cast a healing spell," he heard Willow say. Alice
looked up from her careful dabbing of Neosporin®, and tsk, that
wasn't a very friendly look she gave the witch, was it? She looked towards
Xander, letting him make the decision.
"No," Xander said wearily. "No magic," his head
"Think maybe you ought to take your boyfriend home," Alice
suggested. "He looks 'bout worn out." Spike smirked as Willow's
face went blank for a long moment. Then she turned and rejoined Oz.
Spike had another drink while he watched the little witch fussing guiltily
over her lover. From the misery on his face, he wasn't buying it. Nothing
worse in the world than having your lover betray you, he thought feeling
an unfamiliar twinge of...sympathy. He shook his head impatiently, and
tossed the last of his drink down his throat. The bottle was empty.
It was time he was leaving. For one thing he needed to find himself
a new crypt. And he could feel that insinuating itch at the back of
his brain that meant that Orexis wanted him. Lucky for him it was so
near dawn, she'd just have to wait.
Giles leaned out onto the railing of the tiny balcony to his room,
and took a deep breath of the fresh air. Allowing himself to revel for
one moment in the fact that he was alive. That they had all made it.
That they'd won. The stars were still bright, but he could feel the
faint changes in the night that signaled the coming day. The dawn that
they had helped secure.
Behind him he was pleasantly aware of Joyce, fast asleep in his bed.
The taste of her mouth lingered pleasantly in his. Snogging at their
age, he thought, smiling. Tonight they were both a little too tired
to do much more than kiss, but tomorrow he planned to make it up to
Outside on the patio, Angel looked up at the sky, grateful to be out
in the clean air. He snuck a look at Buffy. He could feel the warmth
and light of her presence in the cool air. The flame he wanted to throw
himself into careless of the consequences.
Buffy looked up at Angel, glad for the darkness that hid the worst
of the damage. She'd wanted to cry when she saw him clearly, after the
battle, covered in blood and demon stuff, it was all she could do now,
to not take hold of him and try and kiss the pain away. She wanted to
hold him, wanted his arms around her, to feel him cool and solid against
her. It hurt so much to see the pain in his face, he was so pale...Oh!
"You're hungry," Buffy said, which wasn't what she'd meant
to say, but she knew the signs. Angel shrugged.
"A little. It's OK. I've got supplies back at the mansion. Cordelia
went shopping for me." Buffy stared at him in disbelief.
"Cordelia? Shopping for someone else?" Angel half-smiled.
"She's grown," he said. Silence dropped uneasily between
"So," she tried again, "How are you? I mean, how's LA."
"Busy lately, lots of demon activity," he said, trying to
match her light tone. "How's college?"
"Different from high school. More homework, less raw angst."
For most people, anyway.
"And how are you doing?"
"O.K.," she said starting to lie, and suddenly she couldn't
do it. "...no I'm not. I miss you."
"Buffy...we can't..." Angel stepped back, though she hadn't
"I know. But this isn't working either," she said sadly.
She waited for him to pick up his lines, to tell her about their destiny,
their duty, how they had no choice but to stay apart, even if it killed
"You're right," he said, surprising her. "Cordelia's
vision - I don't think I was sent here just to deal with the Capteniel.
You didn't really need me for that. It wasn't just the demons the PTB
were concerned about."
"Oh. So what are we going to do?"
"I don't know. We need to talk. Can we get together?" Angel
"Yes," Buffy said.
Giles watched silently from above as they made arrangements to meet
at the mansion, tomorrow night at 8. Then they went back inside, carefully
maintaining their distance from each other. Giles remained where he
was, thinking long after they'd gone. No longer smiling.
Since the van was still back at the school, Angel offered Oz and Willow
a ride home. Cordelia dropped them both off at Willow's dorm. Oz had
wanted to go home but Cordelia flatly refused to make another stop.
"Sorry, it's almost dawn, and a certain somebody needs to get
inside. Bye, bye." She slammed the door leaving them standing there
like strangers waiting for the same bus. Willow turned to Oz, expecting
Oz to say something about Cordelia's transformation into a real live
girl still being a little rough around the edges, but he didn't say
anything. He looked really tired, she realized, angry slashes standing
out starkly against his pale complexion. Poor Oz, he needed rest and
snuggles. She needed to rest too, but she didn't know how she was going
to be able to sleep. She had so much to think about, so much to do.
She was going to have to go down to LA for supplies
Oz slowly followed Willow up the stairs. He felt worn out, his body
felt like it had been stuck in a tumble dryer for hours. Willow didn't
seem tired at all. She bounced up the stairs, invigorated by something;
he suspected it had to do with what Giles had said to her when he asked
to speak with her privately just before they left.
His lover, his mate and she's oblivious to his mood, to him. He loves
her more than his life, how can she not see how much pain he's in? Why
can't she sense the wolf eyeing the vulnerable nape of her neck as they
climb the stairs. Till death do them part. The wolf does not believe
In the room, Willow throws herself onto her bed, she's puzzled when
Oz lies down on the other bed and closes his eyes. Willow's roommate
Carla, has a boyfriend with his own place which is where she was now
and most nights. The dorm room was basically a cover for her family's
benefit. Worked for Willow.
"So," Willow said perching on the edge of the bed. "Do
you want to hear the news? I'm so excited."
"What does Giles want?" he said, his eyes still shut.
"He wants me to research Angel's curse. See if there's something
that can be done. So Buffy and Angel can be together."
"Giles wants me to see if the, 'happiness clause" can be
like, modified, or deleted."
"Oh," he wasn't really surprised, somehow.
"Yeah, and I've already done a teensy bit of research…just
now and then. But the whole Spike love-spell thing kinda put me off
it. Also I felt like I ought to concentrate on de-ratting poor Amy.
But I guess Giles thinks I can handle it now cause I have been practicing
and I'm much better now with the control and all…"
"Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"Yeah. I mean it would be better if Angel wasn't, you know, undead
and all but they're true lovers, like us, it's just *wrong* for them
to be apart." He hears her leave her bed, and come over to sit
down on the edge of his bed. Feels her hand hovering softly over his
"Like us, true lovers," he says his voice low and bitter.
Willow has an image of, ears flat, yellow eyes gleaming, lip curled
to show gleaming fangs...and yanks her hand out of danger.
"Oz, what's wrong?"
Oz opens his eyes, turns his head toward her. Have his eyes always
been this pale, she wonders, and this cold. "I saw you tonight,
with Xander. You were all over him."
"What?! He was hurt. I was just trying to help!"
"Alice was helping him. He didn't need you, I did."
"Why are you being like this?" she says, and he can tell
that her wounded innocence is no act, but it doesn't help, makes it
worse in fact.
"Because I'm sick of it!" Oz shouted. "Sick of watching
you watching him! I can smell you getting wet when you're around him."
"Oz," her voice breaks, and it hurts to hear it even through
his own pain. "I love you. I know I messed up once, but I'd never,
ever do anything to hurt you again."
"You still want him, and I can't stand it." Oz said rolling
away from her and standing up. Willow gets out of his way. Oz's shadow
against the wall seems larger than it should be.
"Where are you going?" Willow begged.
"I need time to think, and I can't do it around you," he
told her flatly.
"Oz, please!" The door shut behind him, and she was alone.
She threw herself onto her bed and began to cry. It's so unfair, she
hasn't *done* anything.
Home at last. Alice thought as she helped Xander inside and upstairs
to the bedroom. He moved very slowly and carefully, like her Uncle Joe
when the rheumatism was troubling him. She could tell that his wounds
were beginning to tighten up on him, poor baby. He sat down on the edge
of the bed and passively let her undress him. There was a look in his
eyes when he looked at her that she didn't like.
She folded back the covers and tried to get him to lie down, but he
came to life suddenly and grabbed hold of her hand. He ran his hands
up her legs, under the loose shift, running his hands wondering over
her unmarred skin. Pulled away and looked at her with eyes full of hurt
"Nothing. Not a mark," he said quietly. "I was so worried
about you," he whispered. "It was just a joke to you. You
were never in any danger." There was anger as well as hurt in his
"I don't really know anything about you, do I? Who the hell are
you really? Is your name really Alice? Or is it Lucy?"
"Oh baby." She said sadly, the sour taste of impending loss
rising in her throat. "I'm sorry, but the last man who learned
my secrets locked me in a cage." Knowing it was a feeble excuse
even as she spoke it. He didn't let her get away with it.
"I'm not him!" He shouted, his hands clenching bruisingly
over hers for a moment. Then he let her go, turned away. "I knew
it was too good to be true."
She looked down at him, into his dark, hurt eyes and felt something
"Xander, I love you. And my name is Alice; it's always been Alice.
Ask me anything. Was I in any danger? Hell yes."
"But I saw you get hurt, and you changed and you were all better."
She nodded. "If I can change I can heal almost any wound. But
cold iron keeps me from the change..."
"I wondered why you were stuck in that cage," he interrupted.
"I wondered why you didn't just change, and yell for help…"
"All steel construction. Ilya wasn't taking any chances."
"And you're sure you're not Lucy?" But this time the question
was teasing, not in earnest.
"I don't know who the hell Lucy is..." she hesitated a moment,
then went on "But she's probably a relative. It looks like she
messed with Angel's head something fierce, but that's not my problem
as long as the big undead bastard stays away from me." Her hand
caressed his cheek. "Do you want to go to St. Louis and meet my
He grinned; that wide, wonderful grin that melted the ice at her core.
"Hell no. Or at least...not yet."
"But I have one question."
"Come here and let me whisper in your ear," he said.
And a little bit later on, Xander thrusts into her, over and over,
relentless, as if he's trying to burrow into her, get under her skin.
She matches his thrusts with her own, trying to lose herself in the
delightful friction of his hip grinding just right against her clit,
trying to believe, that it's all right again between them again.
Orexis stood at the window and reluctantly reached for the cord to
close the drapes. She loved the way the sun poured into the room, filling
it with golden light. Unfortunately, the Dickson boy was practicing
baskets in their driveway again and the repetitive Twank! Twank! Twank!
of the ball hitting the concrete was doing nothing for Orexis' concentration.
She stood for a long moment, watching him lovingly, so young and tender,
baby fat jiggling slightly as he ran back and forth with his ball. Twank!
Twank! Twank! She had very special plans for young master Dickson after
her investiture. He looked up and she waved once before drawing the
drapes. She returned to the table and the figures set out on it.
She was quite proud of them, had carefully carved them herself of marzipan,
painted and baked them. She put her chin on her hand, as she pondered
The little red witch, Willow Rosenberg. Buffy's best friend. Judging
from last night she had more power there than Orexis had suspected.
It was always unwise to cast a spell on a witch in any case; and even
if it worked, it might draw unwelcome attention, and she needs to continue
in obscurity for just a little bit longer.
She picked up the Oz figure that stood close to the witch and studied
it thoughtfully. The werewolf held Willow's heart, if he were to betray
or abandon her…now there was an idea. Smiling, she moved the figure
to the far side of the table, away from the others. Yes. That was a
viable solution to that problem.
Next, Alice the leopard, this poppet was a recent addition and truthfully
not really up to her usual standards: a simple china figurine, purchased
from a gift shop. But needs must when the devil drives... The shapechanger
intrigued her, she was a new factor impinging on her plans but so far
she hadn't made much difference. It stalked protectively near to the
dark-haired boy, Xander Harris. He should have died last night, but
in the end he was of little importance, and as long as he and Alice
were together, he wouldn't have much time for his friend the Slayer.
True, her mouth watered for the power contained in the shapechanger's
skin, blood, bone, meat, but patience was her primary virtue after all.
Her eyes skimmed over the figures of Giles and Joyce, annoying symbols
of her first failure. At least their little love affair meant that they
should be less available to Buffy now. It would have to do until her
other plans came to fruition. Not long now, the solstice was only a
few weeks away.
She smiled at the next figure indulgently and let it be. Spike, her
sharp-toothed little ermine. No reason to worry about him, he was hers,
And finally, there's Angel Buffy's true love. She lifts the little
figure, staring at the heavy-browed face modeled with the help of a
photograph her friends in LA had sent. He represented the biggest threat
to her plans. Her faithful Spike had told her about how they looked
at each other. She agreed with him that it was doubtful that the curse
would keep them away from each other much longer. The souled meddler
needed to be dealt with, permanently. Fortunately she knows exactly
how to do it. She smiles. It's poetic, really.
His eyes roam over the symphony of curves that converge at the dark
triangle of pubic hair. Her arms are bound behind her, thrusting her
heavy breasts forward for his attention. He reaches out and rolls a
large nipple between his black-nailed fingers. Gorgeous, he thinks as
stolen blood rushes to his cock, leaving him a little dizzy. Sharp white
teeth gleam between her wide, wet lips. Yellow just beginning to bleed
into her darkly contemptuous eyes.
He mauls her lips, forcing his tongue into her mouth, staring fascinated
into those marigold eyes so like and unlike a demon’s. Feeling
her hot breath on his cold tongue sends another rush of blood south.
Blood, he can smell it running hot and sweet under her smooth skin as
his hands wander down her back. She shivers as his cold fingers probe
the cleft of her magnificent ass, growls a warning and his tongue shreds
itself on suddenly carnivorous teeth.
He pulls away, his true face surfacing, the demon growls its own warning.
She stares up at him, unimpressed. He pushes her down onto the bed and
straddles her, pinning her flanks between his leather-clad knees, feels
another low growl rumble through her chest.
He cups her breasts, one in each hand, feeling the soft weight of them,
the delicate skin yielding under his talons. He drops his head to one
breast to lick away the little drops of blood welling up from the marks.
So good. Human, but seething with the power of her impending change.
He sucks in a nipple, rolls it against the roof of his mouth with his
tongue, and hears her gasp, feels her heart begin, finally, to beat
faster as he suckles; with fear or arousal, he doesn't care which.
His other hand goes down then, burrowing between her legs, but in that
position he finds he can only just brush his fingertips across the delicate
lips of her sex. He moves off her and pushes her up towards the head
of the bed.
She offers no resistance as he kneels on the bed and spreads her legs,
but she hisses when he slips two fingers inside, probing her slowly.
He pulls his fingers out and puts them in his mouth, tastes her. Grins.
He can hear her heart accelerating, smell her excitement growing. He
bends down and flicks his tongue across her clit, teasing. Her back
arches, she whines in frustration. She lifts her head to glare at him,
yellow eyes blazing. The bones of her face are beginning to shift, her
control is slipping. Enough preamble then, time to move on to the main
He spreads her wide and pulls her up onto his lap, and letting her
feel his erection lying heavy on her belly, him feeling her cunt wet
against him. She grunts, and closes her eyes as her arms come around
his neck. He lifts her and impales her on his cock, and feels sharp
claws break the skin as she clutches at him. She is so hot, engulfing
him. Her blood pounding through her, so close, he jerks her head roughly
to one side and takes it. Blood fills his mouth, sweeping away the last
of his control, he thrusts into her, hard and fast as he drains her
He comes quick and hard, his orgasm sharp as a shard of glass. She
twists violently in his grasp and pulls free, spilling him off the bed
and onto the floor. He hears a coughing roar and scrambles up to face
The panther stalks him. There was a bright smear of blood on her neck,
but no wound under it. Mad yellow eyes, porcelain white fangs in red
mouth, she leaps, and he sidesteps, catches her by the neck and gives
it one sharp twist, glorying at that wonderful sensation/sound as the
spine cracks. He grins as the dead cat slides to the floor...
Applause, slow and mocking, from behind him. Spike turns to face his
mistress making a deliberately overdone bow… and falters when
he sees how pleased she is with him. Sees her reaching out for him with
her arms, her jaws open wide, ruby eyes gleaming...
Spike woke with a snarl. The pleasure of his orgasm has drained into
the darkness, leaving him with a damp crotch and the stink of his own
fear thick in the crypt. He can't even fucking *dream* without the bitch
interfering. If it would help he would open his throat with his own
claws, bleed out on the floor, disembowel himself, drive a stake through
his own heart. But he wasn't certain that would be enough to free him.
He was well and truly buggered.
At 4 p.m. the shop called to tell Oz that the van was ready. He'd finished
packing by then. Left a note and the keys on the kitchen counter for
Devon to find when he came back. He slung his duffel over one shoulder,
picked up his guitar case and left the apartment without a backwards
He walked the six blocks to Tom's Auto shop. "Hey, Oz." Tom
said, stepping out from underneath a Lexus he had up on the lift. Tom
was an old friend from shop class. A fellow Nirvana fan long before,
and after, it was cool to be one. "Going somewhere?" he asked
after they’d settled up.
"Yeah, need to get away for awhile. Get my head clear."
"Cool. You're lucky man, wish I was going with you."
"No. You don't."
Oz drove through Sunnydale, hunched down, knowing he was a fucking
coward, scared to death he’d see her. Knowing that all his resolve
would evaporate if he saw her. If she looked at him again and begged
him not to go.
In the end he made it safely past the familiar houses, the stores,
downtown, the burnt-out school, UC Sunnydale, the ever-expanding cemeteries.
It felt good to reach the freeway, to grind the van up to 60 and feel
Sunnydale with all its memories good and bad falling behind him. Ahead
of him lay the open road, with its endless possibilities, offering time
and freedom to think. The shadows stretched ahead of him as he took
the turnoff for the old section of Rte 66 that led east through the
hills to Interstate 5. It was the longer route, but he’d never
been this way and always wanted to. Anyway, now that he was out of Sunnydale
he was in no hurry.
The tire blew about 10 miles down the old highway. Oz fought the wheel
and managed to steer it to the shoulder. He heard another ominous pop
as the van skidded to a halt a few inches from the hillside. He sat
there for a long moment while the last arc of sun slipped behind the
hills, waiting for his heart to stop trying to pound its way out of
He stood in the cooling evening looking at two flat tires. He was kind
of surprised. He could have sworn they weren’t that bad, but front
left and right rear were both shredded and he only had one spare. Fuck,
what was he going to do now? Go back? He couldn't face that. He got
back in the van and collected his duffel, guitar, and the picture of
Willow he had taped above the sun visor. He locked the van and started
to walk east.
Evening filled the valley with purple shadows. The moon isn’t
up yet, Oz knowing without having to see it that it is still 20-odd
days before it will be full, but the wolf is with him anyway, alert
to the soft sounds of animals moving in the brush. Occasionally cars
pass, but Oz doesn't bother trying to hitch. It's 10 miles to Purdyville.
He figures he can make it in a couple of hours. There was a Greyhound
station there and he's carrying enough cash to take them up on their
offer: $99 one-way to anywhere they go.
Bright light from behind startled him, too close…as a car drove
up onto the shoulder behind him. Not good, he thought as he jumped out
of the way. One look -- big black car stopping, doors opening, letting
hooded figures and a familiar unwelcome scent into the night. Way beyond
not good. They drop their robes and their human disguise as soon as
they’re clear of the car. The Capteniel sprout up like black mushrooms
and turn towards him, and maybe now’s not the time to wonder how
they do that, without eyes. Cause it’s just him here, no Buffy,
no Angel, no Alice…just him. Oz turned and ran into the brush.
The wolf knows all about running through the dark. About being hunted
too, so Oz surrenders to it. Lets it control his desperate run through
the dry bushes and prickly grass, while Oz tries to use his brain, tries
to think of something that will save him, but there’s nothing.
The wolf smells water, and runs towards it blindly, hearing the crush
and crash of brush being destroyed by the demon’s careless passing.
He looks back as he slides down the streambank in a shower of gravel,
but in the dark, it's hard to tell shadow from shadow.
A silver glint between a pair of boulders, the faint sound of ripples
running over gravel: means he's found the stream. If he can find a deep
enough pool to hide in, the water will carry his scent away, hide him
until daylight evens the odds a little. He splashes into the shallow
water, headed downstream and then feels more than sees a shadow fall
over him. He dove to the side, but he's not quick enough. His world
turns upside down as tentacles, slimy and strong as woven steel, snatch
him up. He struggles, knowing it's a waste of time as it slide/walks
back up the side of the wash, to the car.
Shit. It's the last person he'd expected to see: Spike, leaning against
the car smoking and looking bored, and Oz knows better than to think
he’s the cavalry. The Capteniel lets go of Oz and shrinks to its
dayform while Oz hits the ground hard. Before he can think about running,
or fighting, anything, the others are on him. They handcuff him, and
hold him. Spike grins at Oz's shocked expression.
"Yeah, it was a bit of a shock to me too. Luckily, they don't
seem to hold grudges." Spike turned away. "Put him in the
back. One of you lot can drive."
Spike climbed into the car beside Oz, resting his arm casually on the
back of the seat as he finished his cigarette. He tossed his lit butt
into the dry weeds as the car reversed and pulled back onto the highway.
He reached over and pulled Oz upright, leaning in close till they're
face to face. His irises are thin blue rings around huge pupils as he
inhales the smell of the blood leaking from the fresh scratches and
cuts Oz collected trying to get away.
"Lovely," he hisses, his face shifting. Oz knowing he can
smell his fear, tries to fight it down as Spike presses him back against
the seat with hard strong hands till they're face to face, and too damned
close. The vampire’s skin radiates a chill stink of nicotine,
whiskey, and death. He opens his mouth, and his tongue paints a cold
trail along Oz’s forehead.
"Fuck," Oz says. Spike stops, and smirks.
"Maybe later," he says. The car raced towards Sunnydale as
he resumed licking the blood off the struggling boy.
Buffy hurried along the main mallway in a state of mild panic. It was
already past five and she was going to be late. Late, for her first
date in how many months with Angel.
Not her fault: first she'd woken up late, just in time for lunch. Then
she had to help Mom clean up the mess back at the house. Giles had begged
off, mumbling something about research and Buffy hadn't missed the hurt
look mom gave him. Or the way she perked up and got all flushed when
he whispered something into her ear and la-la-la-la, she's not going
there in this lifetime.
So it was after 3 before she had a chance to look in her closet and
realized she didn't have anything to wear. Nothing. So she'd jumped
in the Buffymobile and vroomed off to the mall. Blitzed through every
shop in the Galleria until she found the perfect (or the closest thing
to perfect she was going to find in Sunnydale) dress and now she had
less than an hour to get home, shower, do her hair, etc., etc. before
she was supposed to meet with Angel. She was never going to make it.
"Buffy?" the beautiful voice stopped her dead in front of
the Java Joint. She knew that voice. She turned to see Professor Orexis,
Sylvia sitting at a cafe table, smiling. Thought for a moment again
just how pretty she was, for a professor, an older woman as she smiled
back. Guilty check...had she ditched her class today? Saturday, so no
problem there. And their conference on her extra-credit project was
next Wednesday, so ok there too.
"Prof… Sylvia. Hi," she said.
"You look like you could use a break," Orexis said. "Join
me in a cappuccino?"
"Uh, no, I'm kinda in a hurry…" Buffy said uncomfortably.
"Ah, a date?" her eyes twinkling. Buffy blushed.
"Yeah," she admitted.
"Well then, don't let me keep you. I'll see you Wednesday."
"Yeah, bye." Orexis' watched Buffy moving through the other
shoppers like a quarterback. So pretty, she thought.
Angel looks good. True, with that body he would probably look good
in a lime-green leisure suit, but still, more than usually gorgeous
this evening. He's wearing the new silk shirt that she'd gone out to
buy for him, in guess what non-color. He's nervous as hell, and it's
unnerving when someone big as him starts pacing the floor in his size
14 Doc Martens. It's like having one of those huge Budweiser horses
in the living room, it's a big living room, but not that big.
"Settle down, it's not like it's your first date," she tells
him. He just looks at her. "Ok. Fine, just trying to help."
Cordelia went into the kitchen, where she's less likely to be trampled
and starts making herself dinner. Grimacing at the pinkish stain in
the mug that he's left in the sink. They're out of blood, again, it
took a lot to heal him last night. Oh well, a visit to the butchers
would give her something to do. She couldn't wait to get back to LA.
She even missed Wesley.
Buffy, he thinks. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. This is probably a really bad
idea. They're supposed to talk, what is there to talk about? They can't
be together… and it seems like they can't be apart either. Willow
had told Cordelia about Buffy's lack of interest in …anything,
really. He'd already noticed how thin she'd become over the last few
months, but the near-misses, the general listlessness... "It's
like she just doesn't care. She patrols, she slays, but she's not really
interested. And sooner or later there's going to be a monster that is
really interested, and she's going to get killed."
He knows exactly what that feels like, the hollow feeling as he fights
yet another monster, rescues another helpless victim, just going through
the motions. He's missed her so much. The memory of her body their one
and only time together. The way she felt, long hard muscles under silken
skin, her slender body moving with his, her breasts, her face, so small
in his hands...
"I love you," he whispered. "I love you. I try not to,
but I can't stop."
"Me, me, too. I can't either," she told him, and sometimes
the memory of that sweet, doomed kiss was the only thing that kept him
The doorbell rings, and he reacts like it's the trump of doom; freezes
in place and looks at her with those big brown eyes. Cordelia rolls
her eyes and goes to answer the door. It's Buffy of course. Looking
a little nervous in what Cordelia has to admit is a helluva dress. Red
velvet. Short. Clingy in all the good ways. Cordelia recognizes the
"That's from Angie's, nice. I remember it from a few months back,"
"Hi Cordelia," Buffy says. "Angel. Hi."
"Buffy," he says.
"Sorry I'm late."
"It's OK," they stand, just looking at each other, and in
the light of their blazing regard Cordelia feels her own sense of self
fading, feels herself reduced from Queen C to a small town girl out
of her depth in the big city. She's really grateful when they turn away
from each other, say goodnight to her, and leave. She stands alone in
the shadowy mansion after they're gone, thinking chocolate, that was
what she needed, chocolate and lots of it.
Sitting out on Bucci's terrace, Angel played with his salad and listened
to Buffy babble nervously about her classes, her professors, Willow's
spells, Xander's new girlfriend and everything but the reason they were
sitting there. He watched every move she made, every bite, and every
swallow. The way he used to watch her sleep. Sitting there by her bed,
night after night, memorizing every detail of her face, her body, her
She turns her head, and for the first time he can see the ugly scar
his teeth had left in her neck. It’s faded and silvery now, courtesy
of Slayer metabolism, and if you didn’t know, you might not even
identify it for what it was.
It’s a sharp reminder of all the things they hadn't talked about.
He knows she thinks he doesn't remember biting her, feeding on her,
but he does. He remembers her words. "Drink me, it’s the
only way." How he’d refused, despite the painful delirium
of the poison destroying his body.
"No. – Get away," somehow getting to his feet, and
tried to walk away from her. He remembers the shock, and the pain as
she attacked him, kept hitting him, hurting him until finally the demon
manifested in self-defense. He remembers the smell of her blood as she
pressed his face into the crook of her neck and the way the overwhelming
presence of her blood, the instinctive knowledge that it would end his
pain, had broken his last resistance. He'd bitten her, torn into her
throat and pulled her onto the floor, held her down as he drank and
drank at the wondrously vital flow of Slayer vitality, of *Buffy* salty
sweet in his mouth...
He never knew what had stopped him. The PTB, a day late and a dollar
short as usual? His soul? Or was he simply sated enough to pull away
while she still lived.
And it's more than a memory now. The smell of her blood, an arms-length
away hits him like a physical blow. He's hard as a rock, and the demon
is pouring all the memories of the rush, the power of her blood...
"Angel?" She's looking at him, a little half-smile on her
face, love shining out of her eyes…
He wants her. Wants to take her now on the stupid little metal table.
Use his body, to seal his claim to her body, her soul, her blood…
Most of all, her blood.
Oh God, how could he be so fucking stupid, thinking he could be with
her, ever. He stood up hastily, her eyes flick towards his crotch and
he knows she's noticed his erection. She smiles uncertainly. God, the
smell of her... He leaned towards her, and she responds, reaching out
for his hand. Her eyes, shining with love, and complete acceptance.
It would be so easy, all he had to do was ask, and she'd let him put
his mouth, just there, his tongue flickering over the slight imperfection
and hold her still as his face changed, his fangs sinking into the flesh,
He recoiled and jumped to his feet, knocked over his chair in his haste
to get away from her. "I can't," he said to her shocked face.
He turned, took two steps, vaulted over the iron railing and ran into
Spike stood looking at Oz. He'd fastened him securely to Orexis' 'play'
table as per orders. The boy was glaring at him over the gag, his eyes
glittering angrily. Spike licked his lips; he could still taste the
boy's blood. He wondered, more than idly, what she was going to do with
him. If she were after a wolf-skin rug she'd have to keep him alive
for almost a month. He leaned closer, fascinated by the veins bluely
visible under the pale skin. Imagined slitting the vein open with a
sharp fingernail and catching the red fountain in his mouth, good to
the last drop.
"Spike," Orexis said, her gently mocking tone shattering
his reverie. "Mustn't touch." Bitch, he thought. He looked
up, his face carefully blank. She was halfway down the stairs. She was
looking quite glamorous tonight, he thought dispassionately. She has
on a floor-length gown of deep blue satin. The full golden length of
her hair flowed over her shoulders and down her back. If he hadn't known
what she was he might have fancied her. Spike can smell the boy's fear
and confusion as Orexis came to inspect her prize.
He was small, but well made she thought as she put her hand over his
heart to feel it jump inside its narrow cage, ran a hand along his arm,
his neck, his face. The idea of the werewolf, all that rage and violence
emerging from this compact package pleased and titillated her. She wanted
to see that, at least once.
"Hello there Oz," she caressed his cheek. "I'm Sylvia.
We're going to be good friends, I hope." She had beautiful eyes,
he thought, but the things he saw moving at the back of them made the
man want to scream, and the wolf curled itself into a furry ball. Oz
stared at her. Pretty sure he'd never seen her before. She looked a
little like his 3rd grade teacher, Miss Christensen,
She kissed him on the forehead, and then to Spike's surprise, let him
be and turned her attention to him.
"Did you have any problems?" she asked.
"Piece of cake," he said, showing his teeth, whiter flash
in his pale face.
"You left the note?"
"On her bed." A nice touch he’d thought of himself.
"She'll cry a fucking river."
"Vulnerable do you think?"
Spike shrugged. "Yeah, definitely. Easy pickings."
"So, Spike dear, do you think you'd be up to the job?"
"What?" Spike's expression shifted from confusion, to a harsh
kind of pleasure. "You want me to..."
Out of the corner of her eye, Orexis watched the boy go still as he
caught on. She admired the way tension made his ribs stand out, the
poetry of his lips moving in fruitless protest around the gag.
"Remove our little witch Willow from play by giving her something
to think of besides the Slayer. Can you do it? How long has it been
since you were with a human female?"
Spike grinned, his mind going back to a favorite if not recent memory.
*There hadn't been that much blood, in the end, he and Angelus had drunk
most of it; just a small pool beneath her hips, a few random smears
on her mutilated breasts, a thread of bloody spittle dangling from her
"Been awhile," he admitted. Orexis’s smile was entirely
"And did she call you afterwards? Or would that have required
a Ouija board?" Spike shrugged, unrepentant. "I want the little
witch seduced, not traumatized," Orexis told him, steel showing
through the velvet and sugar of her usual disguise for a moment.
"Just 'cause I haven't done it recently, doesn't mean I forgot
how," he protested. "I can handle the chit. I’ve talked
my way under more skirts than you’ve had hot dinners."
"Hmmm. Perhaps, but I'd feel better if we rehearsed a bit. Come
here." Her tone of negligent command was like a sharp fishhook
in his heart, but he obeyed.
Oz sagged in his restraints and watched quietly as she sat down on
a red velvet Victorian loveseat, incongruous in the white-on-white sterility
of this place. Her next words chilled him to the bone.
"I'll be Willow, shall I?" She closed her eyes and sagged
forward, letting her hair obscure her face and began to cry as though
her heart had been torn out. Spike stood and watched her and there was
something in his face like…hesitation for a moment. Then it passed.
Oz watched him resume his normal cockiness and set his shoulders; then
he moved to stand behind her.
The crying had put him off for a moment. Dru cried, but never like
this. She wailed, she raged, but she never sobbed, and Spike had never
known the human her who could have wept tears. Orexis tears smelled
wet and salty, altogether authentic. "Sssh, sssh, what's the matter
Pet?" He said. The words echoed in his head disturbingly. How many
times had he said those words to Dru, and where was she now?
"Oz. He, he's gone!" She sobbed. "Left me..."
To Spike’s ear, the imitation of the little witch's voice was
note-perfect. He wondered what Oz thought. He wished he could see the
boy’s face, but he knew he couldn’t spare the attention.
He needed all his focus as he bent closer to faux-Willow and caught
the sharp scent of vinegar, not fresh skin and wholesome herbs. He suppressed
the shivers of fear it induced, made himself ignore it, as he placed
his hands on her shoulders. "That’s all right, he’s
a fool, you’ll be all right Luv, just wait and see," he soothed
as he began to massage her shoulders, slowly easing his hands under
the robe as he continued to murmur inanities non-stop. She shivered
at the first touch of his cold fingers on her bare skin, but didn’t
protest. He kept talking, taking his time, feeling the tension evaporate
under his skilled fingers. His face close to her neck. So close, the
temptation to wrench her head back and twist that swan neck till it
snapped is nearly overwhelming; but even the thought sent warning shivers
of pain through his flesh. Fool me once...he chided himself. Get back
to business. He eased his hands further down her back. The sobbing stopped.
"Spike," Willow's voice quavered, (oh, she was good) "What
are you doing?" He stopped.
"I'm sorry," he said and took his hands away. "I just....
I'll go." He stepped back, to give her a good view of the expression
of yearning set carefully on his face when she twisted round to look
up at him, eyes gleaming through her hair.
"No, don't, don’t go," she whispered. "Please."
He took her in his arms and kissed her. She clung to him, trembling,
warm, her body soft under his hands and this time she does smell human,
like Willow. He felt his teeth sharpen at the thought of Willow-blood,
she had always smelled tasty to him. In his arms, she sighed, and pinched
him hard just above the navel.
"If your control isn't better than that," Orexis murmured
in her own voice, "perhaps we should abandon the project."
Spike barely succeeded in keeping the snarl he felt from showing on
"Sorry," he said. He lowered his mouth to her throat again,
softly caressing her with his lips, his tongue, keeping his teeth well
away. Stealthily, he moved his hands down to her breasts, gently circling
her tiny nipples with his thumbs. He felt her shiver and press back
into him; felt nice if a little too warm. His cock sprang to life as
it made contact with her tight little ass. His hands ran down the length
of her body, one hand snaking through the slit in the dressing gown
between her thighs. He was remembering the steps now to the old, old
dance, the gentle touches, the soft murmurs of wanting breathed into
her eager ears, all focused to the end of propelling her toward the
bedroom, the waiting bed.
That moment of truth as he laid her down on the bed, looked into her
anxious, wanting eyes; schooling his own face into an expression of
"Spike?" she questioned. The voice and the tone were so perfect
he could almost see Willow's features floating ghostlike over her own.
"I love you, Willow," he said. She smiled, and threw back
her head in surrender. Spike bent his head to her soft white throat
and put his mouth over the pulse, and kissed it with infinite care.
He heard Oz’s muffled howls of rage and anguish, in pleasant counterpoint
as he gently began to make love to her.
And still the whining of the wheels
Sounds closest to the way I feel and
Winter comes, and winter goes,
And always has & will
Another hour, another day, another year
You pissed away
Remember walking in the rain?
I'm walking there still*
Angel switched off the radio, never shifting his attention from the
black road and white line stretching out before him like his unending,
hopeless existence. They'd be in LA in about two hours. Back where he
belonged. The land of pretty surfaces and monstrous realities. The perfect
place for a thing that looked like a man, but wasn’t one never
He'd run from the restaurant, through the Sunnydale night, back to
the mansion, no-one tried to stop him. He found Cordelia just about
to leave to meet some old friends at the Bronze. He didn't tell her
what had happened; she took one look into his eyes and knew better than
"We're going home," was all that he told her.
On the way he stopped off at the slaughterhouse on the edge of town
to buy blood. The hunger he'd felt when he was with Buffy remained;
he guzzled two quarts of pigs blood in the shadows outside before his
nerves settled enough that he could get back into the car.
He drove, and brooded. Cordelia gave up trying to talk to him after
awhile and listened to the radio, eventually nodded off in the seat
next to him. He realized he was hungry again. And suddenly far too aware
of the woman next to him, her warm breath misting the car window.
She was very close to her menstrual bleeding. It would be so easy to
slip his hand down the front of her jeans, under her panties and inside
her. To draw his hand out again, with rubies glistening on his fingertips…
He shook his head violently to clear the vivid image from his mind.
What the hell was the matter with him?
*c. Johnette Napolitano "Days and Days"
END part 5
Part 6, Nothing But Bad News